While in Florida momentum has quickly shifted away from Newt Gingrich and to Mitt Romney, on the national level Gingrich is still going very strong. Two national polls out today both give Gingrich a solid nine point lead over Romney. From MSNBC on the new MSNBC/WSJ poll:
Gingrich leads Romney 37 percent to 28 percent nationally among registered Republicans likely to vote in the primaries; Rick Santorum is in third with 18 percent, and Ron Paul is fourth with 12 percent.
Gingrich is also viewed as the most electable candidate by GOP primary voters. He leads Romney 2-to-1 among those who picked electability as mattering most to them in a candidate. He holds a narrow lead, 46-44 percent, among those who say views on issues matter most.
If the primary ends up just a Romney versus Gingrich contest, Gingrich’s lead would be even larger. The poll found (PDF) that in such a theoretical head-to-head match Gingrich would win 52 percent of the vote compared to Romney at 39 percent.
The Gallup national daily tracking poll also has Gingrich leading by nine. Gallup currently has it Gingrich 32 percent to Romney 24 percent. For roughly two weeks the poll has found Gingrich gaining steadily on Romney. There is no indication that Gingrich’s current drop in Florida is part of a national turn away from Gingrich.
Of course since presidential primaries are a contest-by-contest fight spread over months, national standing isn’t as important as the polling in the upcoming states. A win in one state often creates momentum going forward into the next contests. Still a nine point lead in national polling is a substantial lead. I would not count out a candidate while that candidate is still the clear national front runner.